Kendrick Lamar is finally back.
The rapper on Friday dropped his latest album, “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers.” It’s his first studio album in five years since 2017’s “Damn.”
Lamar is known as a virtuoso who constantly pushes musical and artistic boundaries with his projects. He’s earned 14 Grammy awards for his work, and “Damn” was the first non-classical and non-jazz album to win the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2018.
Here’s everything you should know about his new music.
It’s a double album
The two discs — titled “BIG STEPPERS” and “MR. MORALE” — feature 18 tracks, running about a total of an hour and 15 minutes.
The songs include appearances from Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah, Kodak Black, Sampha, Baby Keem, Beth Gibbons and Taylour Paige.
Some of his tracks are already making headlines
Several tracks on his new album have already generated buzz for their stirring lyrics.
In his song “Auntie Diaries,” Lamar begins his rap: “My auntie is a man now/I think I’m old enough to understand now.”
In a later verse, Lamar elaborates: “Demetrius is Mary-Ann now. I mean he’s really Mary-Ann, even took things further/Changed his gender before Bruce Jenner was certain/Living his truth even if it meant see a surgeon.”
Variety called the song a “powerful, genre-shifting statement on transphobia.”
Lamar also used his new music to talk about anti-vaccine rhetoric in his song, “Savior,” featuring Baby Keem and Sam Dew.
In the song’s second verse, Lamar appears to reference Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who opted against Covid-19 vaccination.
“Seen a Christian say the vaccine mark of the beast/Then he caught COVID and prayed to Pfizer for relief/Then I caught COVID and started to question Kyrie/Will I stay organic or hurt in this bed for two weeks?” Lamar raps.
Lamar’s new song “The Heart Part 5” is not on the album
Lamar dropped a new music video on Sunday for a song titled “The Heart Part 5.” However, the track does not appear on the new album.
The video generated buzz after its release because it marked Lamar’s return to music. It also made headlines for Lamar’s use of deepfake technology.
As Lamar begins the video rapping by himself against a crimson backdrop, his face morphs into those of other Black men, including Ye, formerly Kanye West, Will Smith, Jussie Smollett and O.J. Simpson, as well as the late Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle.
The reviews are coming in strong, so far
Already, critics and fans — including many celebrities — have praised the new album.
The Guardian, which gave the album five stars, called it an “exhilarating epic that ties personal pain to collective trauma — and lets no one off the hook”
One Twitter user wrote, “Kendrick Lamar is William Shakespeare reincarnated.”
Musician JoJo used the goat emoji — referring to the term GOAT (Greatest of All Time)— multiple times in a tweet praising the rapper.
Kevin Hart quoted a lyric from one of Lamar’s new songs: “I got some regrets….But my past won’t keep me from my best”
“Rumble Young Man Rumble,” he wrote, adding an applause emoji.
Drummer Travis Barker reacted by simply tweeting: “Kendrick.”
There will be a tour
Following the album’s release, Lamar on Friday tweeted an image confirming a tour.
“Come help Mr. Morale get out of the box,” the tagline of the image reads.
Baby Keem and Tanna Leone will also be on the tour, according to the post.
Lamar will kick off the tour in Oklahoma on July 19, and then move across North America, Europe and Australia before ending on Dec. 16 in New Zealand, according to Lamar’s website.
Jo Yurcaba contributed.